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Altria to webcast shareholder meeting

| May 15, 2015

The Altria Group is due to host a live audio webcast of its 2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders starting at 09.00 Eastern Time on May 20.

Directions for the required pre-event registration are at

An archived copy of the webcast, which will be in listen-only mode, will be available on or through the Altria Investor App. The free app is available for download at or through the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Minnesota company uses tobacco to fight cancer

| May 14, 2015

A Minnesota-based startup company called MNPHARM plans to use tobacco plants to produce personalized treatments for patients battling cancer.  Founded by Jeff Reinert and Dave Roeser, MNPHARM uses a process that combines technological advances in controlled indoor atmosphere and biochemistry to transform a plant that is frequently associated with causing cancer into one with the potential to produce lifesaving cancer antibodies.

Using proprietary equipment, MNPHARM grows highly transgenic tobacco plants in a controlled indoor environment. Medical professionals then use a biopsy taken from a cancer patient to introduce some of the patient’s DNA to a bacterium, which is injected into the growing plant. Once the plant has been infiltrated with a reagent containing a specific genetic code, it becomes a “factory” that produces antibodies, vaccines and proteins. The antibodies the infiltrated tobacco plant produces make it possible for the plant to fight off the infection. The antibodies are then extracted from the purified tobacco plant and injected back into the patient, helping them to fight their cancer.

MNPHARM’s patented cylinder growing system, called “orbital gardens,” allow the company to produce antibodies and vaccines in tobacco plants in as few as six days—approximately 30 times faster than traditional cancer-fighting methods. Providing cancer patients with rapid access to treatments is part of the company’s goal to replace outdated traditional treatment methods for complex protein production with the faster, safer and less-expensive methods involving transgenic plants.

The company—which is currently in discussions with Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota and the University of California to begin research—has also initiated fundraising efforts in order to ready the business for production of personalized cancer treatments. A funding site on Indiegogo has raised more than $10,000 of the $42,000 needed to complete testing and begin production.

Study indicates more than one-fifth of adults smoke

| May 14, 2015

A new study titled “Global Statistics on Addictive Behaviours: 2014 Status Report,” which was led by Professor Linda Gowing, of the University of Adelaide in South Australia, estimates that 22.5 percent of adults aged 15 years and older throughout the world smoke tobacco products. The rate use tobacco product use stood at 32 percent for men and 7 percent for women.

Study results showed that eastern Europe had the highest percentage of adults smoking tobacco, at 30.5 percent, followed closely by Oceania at 29.5 percent and Western Europe at 28.5 percent. The lowest rate—13 percent—was observed in Africa and the Caribbean as well as central and northern America. An estimated 11 percent of deaths in males and 6 percent of deaths in females each year are attributed to tobacco use, according to the study.

Imperial announces addition to Carlton cigarette portfolio

| May 14, 2015

Imperial Tobacco has announced a new addition to its Carlton cigarette portfolio: Carlton Superkings Menthol. Carlton is the U.K.’s No. 1 sub-economy cigarette brand. Carlton Superkings Menthol will be available in standard and price-marked packs containing 19 pieces. According to Madeleine Pearce, Imperial’s brand portfolio chassis manager, the brand has been “designed to suit the preferences of the increasing number of downtrading smokers moving into the sub-economy sector.”

The standard and price-marked packs will be available at a recommended retail price of £6.40 ($ 9.74) and £6.19) per pack, respectively. Menthol currently accounts for approximately 8 percent of volume in the factory-made cigarette market. Pearce also noted that because Superkings are often the “preferred choice” of menthol smokers, the new addition to the portfolio “offers consumers a great value menthol cigarette, making it a must-stock for retailers.”

Ex-EU health chief’s compensation claim rejected

| May 13, 2015


The EU’s top court has dismissed a claim for compensation brought by the former health Commissioner John Dalli against the European Commission, according to a BBC Online story.

Dalli left his job as EU health commissioner in 2012 after allegations that he had had improper links with tobacco lobbyists. At the time of his resignation, the Commission was finalizing a new Tobacco Products Directive.

Dalli had said that the former Commission chief, Jose Manuel Barroso, had asked him to resign, but the European Court of Justice ruled that this had not been established.

A statement from the court said that when Barroso met Dalli on 16 October 2012, Barroso decided that Dalli should leave the Commission.

However, Barroso had not uttered a ‘clearly formulated’ request for his resignation, the judges ruled.

‘Since the existence of that request… has not been established, the Court dismisses the action as inadmissible,’ the European Court of Justice said in a statement. ‘The court also rejects Mr Dalli’s claim for compensation.’

The EU anti-fraud agency Olaf had earlier delivered a report alleging that Dalli had held unauthorised secret meetings with tobacco industry representatives.

According to Olaf, a Maltese entrepreneur had sought a ‘considerable’ payment from a Swedish producer of snus after which Dalli would have lifted an EU ban on the product outside Sweden.

Dalli has always denied any knowledge of such an approach by the entrepreneur and all of the allegations made against him.

The court ruled that Dalli may bring an appeal.

New MYO brand to compete against illicit products

| May 13, 2015

British American Tobacco Australia (BATAS) has said that it is planning to launch a make-your-own (MYO) cigarette tobacco brand and suggested that it will be priced competitively with illicit tobacco products, according to a story in the Hobart Mercury relayed by the TMA.

The MYO brand is due to go on sale in 100 g and 25 g packs as part of efforts to discourage smokers from buying illicit tobacco products.

A recent KPMG report indicated that illicit tobacco products accounted for 14.5 percent of total consumption in Australia last year, a 30 percent increase in two years.

The illegal trade was estimated to have deprived the government of the opportunity to collect A$1.35 billion (US$1.1 billion) in tax revenue.

BATAS spokesman Scott McIntyre was said to have attributed the growth in the illegal market to excise tax increases.

McIntyre said that if BATAS were to price its MYO brand competitively with ‘chop chop’, there was potential to capture a huge untapped market share.

Smokers could purchase a high-tech cigarette making machine and make their own cigarettes at home.

MYO cigarettes would be expected to cost about A$9 (US$7.16) per pack of 25 cigarettes, compared to A$15 (US$11.93) per pack for discount brands.

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